Saturday, 14 March 2015

We stood up and were counted.

To my great shame I had been paying less attention to the political scene than I should have. I signed the usual online petitions, for whatever good that does, but I had missed the announcement that there was a nationwide day of protest against Bill C51. For non Canadians, Bill C51 gives sweeping powers to a secret police, has no oversight, and widens the definition of terrorism to include just about anyone protesting anything.

I heard about it the day before. I had missed opportunities to join other Nakuspers to a rally in any of the larger centers, all at least 2 hours from here.  It wasn't till late at night that I thought: Why not make something happen right here in the village? 

So I put the idea on the Nakusp Communicator list on Facebook, truly one of the best uses for the internet. It was picked up in the morning by my neighbour Mary. Mary's partner Walter had had the same idea and called me on that old fashioned medium, the land line. We agreed the cenotaph at the edge of downtown would be the perfect meeting place. 
Walter set out to make some dynamite signs, I tried to round up a few people. Picture above and the one following by Mary's cell phone.

I picked the cenotaph as a meeting place because it is central, but also because I could think of no better way to honour people who had died to defend freedom than to gather in its defense. It never occurred to me that the legion might disagree, but it turned out
some of its members see "politics" or "protest" as disrespectful of the sacred place.

When we got there two members were patrolling the place to make sure no active democracy took place. I walked over to talk to the guys and make clear that the choice of venue had not been meant in a spirit of disrespect, on the contrary. 
I had grabbed a blooming geranium from the window sill as a peace offering. We shook hands and the vets agreed to redirect anyone to where we were. It was not a big deal, we could just as easily gather at the gazebo, easily visible from the monument. 
Thanks to Facebook the press showed up, took pictures and will cover our gathering in the local rag. Below. Trisha Shanks, intrepid reporter for the Arrow Lakes News, is also a dog breeder. She multitasked by taking some of her pooches along for the outing.
The following pictures are all by Trisha, published here with permission. 
The most popular member of the cast! Below in company.
Below, our motley crew before setting out.
We were not exactly a crowd, more a handful. Several of the people I messaged were already on the way to a rally in a larger town, and it was all impossibly short notice. The weather had turned miserable, cold and drizzly. 
After the group pictures were taken we walked up and down our mainstreet once and called it a day. 
Some of us, including Trisha, gathered at Gabi's FairyTale cafe afterwards for coffee and talk. We argued about niqabs, face veils. We all agreed that this topic is a distraction cleverly used to distract and divide people. Walter sent me a surprising post by the woman who wants to change the rules and take the oath while hiding her face. I added it to the blog I wrote on the topic, which can be found here:
Trisha educated us on the power of Twitter.

And that was it. Not much, but I feel good Nakusp did its bit to stand up and be counted. And now, to add our efforts to the national count.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The stars and I

*Astrology: a study of cycles, expressed in a language of symbols.
Horoscope: a snapshot of the solar system as it appears at the place and time of  birth.

After a long hiatus the study of astrology has been beckoning again. It used to be a passion. There was a time in  my thirties and early forties when it was my greatest ambition to become a professional. In all modesty I was pretty good. Recently I felt guided to do one reading and I have had requests to do more. Rather than having to give the same spiel to everyone who asks I am writing this blog post so people can read it and decide if they want to engage me or not.

I cannot claim to have studied astrology for 40 years. It would be accurate to say that I have observed life with that symbolic language in my head for that much time. 

Here is why I stopped giving readings. Preparing for one takes time. Doing the reading is exhausting, and most importantly: I never know if it is good enough.

When someone comes into my room for body work there is a clear time frame. After a generous hour feet have been well and truly squeezed.  People usually walk out feeling better than they did coming in. I can accept my fee with a clear conscience. 

Contrast that with an astrology reading. There is no such thing as DONE. After 40 years of living with my own chart in my head there are still moments when a penny of insight drops and I think "Aha, that's why I do such and such!
In a reading I may have been pouring my heart out for almost two hours and the client still sits there like a baby bird with an insatiable open beak, asking "Is there anything else you can see?"

Professionals will set a time and get people to come back for more. The old 'grease my palm with silver' thing. I have heard taped readings by someone who got paid handsomely for basic work that I could have done better, and this pro kept a friend coming back for some time. 

Prediction is hard, especially about the future. Yogi Berra nailed it. Quite frankly I am not great at that aspect, nor do I wish to be. I do keep an eye on major cycles, and insight in those is helpful. But I prefer to just live life without trying to micro manage the timing of everything. A Wise One said "Sufficient onto the day be the evil thereof". Amen. If fortune telling or precision timing is what you are looking for I am the wrong person.

What is astrology good for then? It works brilliantly as a portrait of the psyche. You know that old serenity prayer, wishing for the wisdom to know the difference between things one must accept and things one could change? 
Astrology is an excellent tool for speeding up the gaining of that wisdom

Let me use an example. A fictional woman, let's call her Nella, has a long history of falling for unattainable partners and getting her heart broken. At her birth Venus, the planet of relationships, was in hard aspect to Neptune, an otherworldly energy that does not translate well into humdrum threedee life. In our reading I would explain the nature of Neptune, explain why no mere mortal will ever live up to her lofty ideals, alert her to the pitfalls (Neptunians are more prone to substance abuse) and suggest constructive ways of expressing this planetary pattern, based on the totality of her chart.

The reading cannot cure Nella's "cosmic homesickness". It is hardwired in. She will always feel a deep desire to transcend the boundaries of ordinary life.  However, the reading can help her to gain perspective. It may spur her to explore better ways to express her need to feel part of a greater whole. 

Knowledge of a loved one's chart in combination with one's own can really help a relationship. Seeing patterns where we effortlessly connect with a partner and where we are bound to have conflict, knowing which times are likely to be extra stressful, it can all help. 

So here is what I propose to anyone who asks "Can you do me?"

I will charge $90 for an initial reading, which is like an introduction to your chart and takes about two hours, with a break for tea and snack halfway. After an hour and a half of intent sharing my brain is fried and can do no more for now.
My intention is to give you some basic understanding of the language of astrology, so you can understand where interpretations are coming from. This is meant to be an empowering learning experience for you. It is not me pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

An audio file of the reading will be created by the trusty laptop which records as we speak. You will also receive a printed computerized report done by an excellent British astrologer. The trouble with computer programs is that they are great for calculations and listing interpretations of individual factors, but they can not pull the whole thing together. 

A computerized program may produce an insightful paragraph on Mars in Taurus, and one on Mars in the fifth house, but not one on Mars in Taurus in the fifth house, let alone one on Mars in Taurus in square to Mercury in Leo in the ninth, etc etc.
It takes a human mind to make sense of the whole, to see patterns.

If you decide you would like to delve deeper, I will charge $60 for future visits. Future visits should last about an hour, have the form of a conversation, and focus on more or less specific questions. I will have spent time studying your horoscope with your questions in mind before you come.

So. If you are interested in exploring the guidance of your stars with me, give me a shout and we will make a date to meet in Vegas. That's what I call my healing room. What happens there stays there. I will do no more than one reading a week.

*Do modern astrologers believe the Earth is the center of the Universe, that Mercury halts in its orbit and goes backwards several times a year? NO.
We are entirely aware of physical realities. However, we deal with things as they appear from earth. I think of the position of planets as hands on a clock: indicators of time, not time itself. All I can say is, it seems to work. I have no idea how.

How I got into it?

Astrology was a gift left me by my first born, who only lived a day and never even had a name. After a normal pregnancy and easy birth she did not start breathing right. It turned out she had a diaphragmal hernia, her intestines were pushing up against her lungs, and she died the next day after surgery. 
I was determined to try again and get it right the next time.
A year and a half later we had our wonderful Nienke.

Where did astrology come in? Two things and I cannot remember which came first. There was the influence of Monica Simcox of Grand Forks, who I had met a women's group called Kaffee Klatch. Three weeks after the delivery she caught me crying silent tears over something baby related in the drug store. She asked a few questions and when she found my age said something about a Saturn return. She then took me home and handed me a paragraph from a classic astrology book, Grant Lewi's  "Astrology for the Millions." I read the chapter on the cyclical return of Saturn and was blown away. 
Then there was the popular (in 1973) book  "Psychic discoveries behind the iron curtain." It included mention of a Dr. Jonas in Czechoslovakia, who helped women who had had multiple failed pregnancies to birth healthy babies by avoiding certain planetary patterns during conception. I wanted to look into that. By the way, both my living offspring were conceived during the lunar fertility period, born when the Moon returned to that angle, and had the gender supposed to go with the conception time. I know, not exactly evidence, but still.

I had motive, means and opportunity. That fall Old Dutch was away from home during the week and I had not gone back to work. I got a book out of the library and taught myself the basics. This was before computers. We are talking tables of logarithms and filling out circular forms by hand. The rest, as they say, is history.